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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  April 26, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> brown: former liberian leader charles taylor was found guilty today of war crimes. among them: arming rebels who committed atrocities in sierra leone. good evening, i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight: we get the latest on the verdict-- the first time an international court has convicted a head of state since the nuremberg trials after world war ii. >> brown: then, ray suarez updates the phone-hacking story in britain, as newspaper mogul rupert murdoch admits one of his tabloids was involved in a coverup. >> woodruff: margaret warner examines the widening political scandal in china, amid new allegations that a former party
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official ordered wiretaps of the country's president. >> brown: and we close with two science stories: paul solman raises disturbing questions about a future full of high tech advances. >> there are 60,000 pacemakers in the united states that connect to the internet. it's great when you're suffering from an arrhythmia and your doctor can remotely shock you, but what happens if the kid next door does that? >> woodruff: and we talk with maria klawe, president of harvey mudd college, about her mission to bring more women into scientific fields. >> you get them into an intro to computer science course that is absolutely fascinating and fun and creative. you have them have so much fun that they just can't believe this really computer science. >> brown: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> citi turns 200 this year. in that time, there have been some good days and some difficult ones.
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but through it all, we persevered. supporting some of the biggest ideas in modern history. so why should our anniversary matter to you? because for 200 years, we've been helping ideas move from ambition to achievement. and the next great idea could be yours. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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>> woodruff: for the first time since world war two, a head of state has been convicted of war crimes. the verdict came today at the hague, in the netherlands, against charles taylor, former president of liberia. we begin with a report from alex thomson of independent television news. >> reporter: it took judge richard lussick well over two hours to read out his verdict. but that's after a trial that lasted five-- yes, five years. >> the trial chamber unanimously finds you guilty of aiding and abetting the commission of the following crimes, and planning the commission of the following crimes. >> reporter: murder, rape, using child soldiers, mutilation, sex slavery. charles taylor, the former liberian leader, planned and abetted hundreds of thousand of these offenses over a three year war fought by his militias in neighboring sierra leone.
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charles taylor used diamond money to fund his proxy forces fighting in sierra leone. >> today is for the people of sierra leone who suffered horribly at the hands of charles taylor and his proxy forces. this judgment brings some measure of justice to the many thousands of victims who paid a terrible price for mr. taylor's crimes. >> reporter: that price still very obvious in sierra leone today and in the hague, too. violent militias run by heads of state. human rights groups have been quick today to say it's a huge message that nobody is now above the law. they're sincere but entirely wrong as defense counsel
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courtenay griffiths q.c. pointed out. >> have we forgotten nicaragua? have we forgotten el salvaldor? have we forgotten the mujahadeen in afghanistan? whether you're the president of the united states or the prime minister of britain, if you engage in such covert activities and crimes are committed, yes, haul them before an international court. >> reporter: but limited justice it'll be argued is better than no justice at all, and in that regard, a little history was made here today. >> brown: for more, we turn to eric stover, director of the human rights center at the university of california at berkeley. he has participated in several criminal investigations of international leaders. so, eric stover, how significant is this conviction and why? >> oh, it's very significant. it's historical for several reasons. first, as you pointed out earlier in the tape, this is the
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first conviction since nuremberg just after world warle two of a former chief of state who is held culpable for crimes against humanity. second-- and i think this is really most important-- the 11-year war ended in 2002 in sierra leone and the fog of war lifted people came to realize that the person behind the mass terror and destruction that took place in their country was charles taylor. so they're seeing a measure of justice, as the prosecutor said. thirdly, it's important to look at the... what he was convicted of. charles taylor wasn't at the helm ordering these crimes but he was behind the scenes planning and aiding and abetting making millions of dollars for his government's coffers and his personal coffers. this has sent a message that those who will profit from arms trading, those who will profit from the suffering of others can
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be held accountable in international court. >> pelley: well, eric, i was wondering... i want to stop you there because i was wondering about that. so you're suggesting that the fact that they found him guilty of aiding and abetting as opposed to actually controlling the militias or commanding the militias might have a wider implication for other cases out there? >> absolutely. look in the trial of the srebrenica massacre, general khristich was actually convicted of aiding and abetting, yet he was there at the crime. aiding and abetting has been present in our trials ever since 1994 in these courts so aiding and abetting means that that that individual is being held responsible for the behind-the-scenes operations and the fact that he gained money from this and that he knowingly, was fully aware, of the crimingss being committed. so this pushes international law further out and can grab more of those who are responsible for
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these crimes. >> brown: what about the process as you look more broadly at these cases of international justice. there's been criticism of the length of time, the money involved. this case took five years, lots of money. there's been some criticism that these efforts can lead to a kind of circling of the wagons. it makes leaders less willing to lead voluntarily going to exile to other countries. where are we now when you look at the broader situation? >> well, listen, justice is the thing that's always about to happen. it is tough. it's going to take time. but if you ask the question how much destruction was brought about by that 11-year war compared to the cost of a five-year trial. and the fact that sending out a signal to those that leaders can be brought to justice is extremely important. you know, it was said just after day t dayton accords in 2005
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that by bringing the war criminals to justice in bosnia, the war would break out again. well, look what happened. here we are with 161 indictees at the yugoslavia court, all of them brought in and there's still peace in bosnia. so, yes, it's difficult. it takes yes commitment on the part of government. it's not easy. but it is a first step towards assuring peace in the long run. >> and briefly, of course, in the case of charles taylor, there's still sentencing to come. there may be an appeal, i guess, right? >> well, he has an appeal and the stiffest sentence that's been handed down for the six others is 52 years so it could be anywhere in that range up to life in prison. the important thing is the message that it's sending to the sierra leone people and those potential perpetrators in the future. >> and this, of course, was a
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special court set up for sierra leone. this disbands, i gather, after this case, but you're saying the quest, these other kinds of courts, the i.c.c. in particular those go on. >> that's right. the international criminal court. take, for instance, the case of omar al-bashir of sudan. in 2011 he traveled to kenya yet the kenyans signed on to the i don't think statute of court and they didn't arrest him. he left but now the ministry of justice in kenya has an arrest warrant out for him. so if he comes back, the importance is that government stand up and support these courts and for the international criminal court to really be effective we need to get the united states on board. >> pelley: eric stover, thanks so much. >> woodruff: still to come on the "newshour": rupert murdoch's apology; allegations of wiretapping in china; high anxiety over high tech breakthroughs and getting more women into science.
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but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> holman: the supreme court of pakistan has convicted prime minister yousuf raza gilani of contempt. it stemmed from his refusal to pursue a corruption case against president asif ali zardari. the ruling carried only a symbolic sentence of less than a minute in detention, allowing gilani to stay in power. in afghanistan, three u.s. troops were killed today in a bomb attack in the east. nato also announced a man wearing an afghan army uniform shot and killed a u.s. service member late wednesday, in the south. the gunman was killed when coalition forces returned fire. there've been at least 16 such attacks this year against american or other foreign forces. the u.s. secret service widened its investigation of a prostitution scandal today. the probe was extended to include previous presidential travel overseas. the latest allegations predate the scandal that exploded two weeks ago, ahead of the
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president's trip to colombia. the secret service now says it's pursuing a report by seattle television station-- kiro. according to that account, agents hired strippers and prostitutes in march, 2011, in advance of a president obama's visit to el salvador. the station reported a local contractor said agents drank to excess and brought prostitutes to their hotel. at the white house today, spokesman jay carney reiterated the president's view. >> he believes that every american who travels abroad representing the united states should behave himself or herself in accordance with the highest standards of probity and dignity. >> holman: earlier this week, "the washington post" reported senior agency managers have tolerated similar behavior during official trips. the report said agents spent a long night drinking and going to strip clubs during a 2009 trip to argentina for former president clinton.
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>> the allegations are inexcusable, and we take them very seriously. >> holman: just yesterday, homeland security secretary janet napolitano condemned the colombian incident, and assured senators there likely was no pattern of misconduct. >> what the director is doing is really reviewing training, supervision, going back, talking to other agents, really trying to ferret out whether this is a systemic problem. if it is, that would be a surprise to me. >> holman: but texas republican senator john cornyn said today the new reports show the need for a wider probe. >> it does concern me, and that's why we need a thorough investigation. not just by the white house, not just by d.h.s., but by congress. >> holman: so far, eight secret service agents have been forced out, and one has lost his security clearance, as a result of the colombian episode. three were cleared of wrongdoing.
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the pentagon still is investigating a dozen military personnel who were implicated. in economic news, first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell only slightly last week. and, a rolling average was the highest in three months. but wall street shrugged off the news, and focused instead on upbeat earnings reports. the dow jones industrial average gained nearly 114 points to close at 13,204. the nasdaq rose nearly 21 points to close at 3,050. the political fight over student loans heated up today. house speaker john boehner blasted president obama for traveling to college campuses in three battleground states this week. at each stop, the president pressed republicans to support holding down interest rates on student loans. but boehner accused the president of campaigning on the taxpayers' dime and manufacturing an issue to boot.
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>> here's the president wasting time on a fake fight to try and gain his own reelection. these are the kinds of political stunts and frankly they aren't worth it and worthy of his office. this is the biggest job in the world and i've never seen a president make it smaller. >> holman: in response, white house spokesman jay carney insisted this week's trip was for legitimate presidential business and not campaigning in disguise. >> the president was arguing on behalf of a policy that he believes is essential. he was calling on congress and will continue to call on congress to act to fix a problem that if not fixed will negatively effect millions of students across the country. and he'll continue to do that as part of his job. >> holman: the house votes tomorrow on a republican measure to prevent interest rates from doubling on federal student loans in july. the $6 billion to cover the cost would come from a public health fund under the president's health reform law.
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democrats favor paying for the bill by imposing new taxes on owners of some privately held corporations. the government of syria and the opposition traded blame today over an explosion that killed at least 16 people. it happened wednesday in the city of hama. the blast apparently flattened part of a residential area. activists posted video of the explosion, and blamed intense shelling by government forces. state t.v. ran graphic images of bodies. it said opposition bombmakers accidentally set off the blast. israel's military chief said today various countries are prepared to strike iran to stop it from building nuclear weapons. lieutenant general benny gantz spoke in jerusalem. he did not name the countries, but he did say this. >> there's no doubt that the iranians are seeking for military nuclear capability. there is no doubt that they should never get there, and there is no doubt that they will never get there. the military force is ready to
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use, not only our force but other forces as well. we all hope that there will be no necessity to use this force but we are absolutely sure of its existence. yesterday, gantz said he believes the iranian regime will decide, on its own, not to build a nuclear bomb. israel's political leaders have taken a more wary view of iran's intentions, but gantz denied today there's any internal rift over the issue. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: and we turn to the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal in britain. today, 81-year-old media magnate rupert murdoch took the stand for a second day, as a judicial panel continued its probe. we begin with a report from paul davies of "independent television news." >> reporter: darkened windows offered some protection from the attention of the photographers, but rupert murdoch always knew this was the uncomfortable day he'd have to explain the criminality that took place at a newspaper he owned. addressing the phone hacking at
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"the news of the world," he made a blunt admission: >> i have to admit that some newspapers are closer to my heart than others, but i also have to say that i failed. >> that may be... >> and i'm very sorry about it. >> reporter: he conceded there had been a cover up of the criminal activities of the news of the world, but then claimed he and those at the top of his empire had also been victims of it. >> i think the senior executives were all misinformed and shielded from anything that was going on there. i do blame one or two people for that. there's no question in my mind, that maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that, someone took charge for a cover up. >> reporter: the media tycoon said his mistake was being more
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interested in the other newspapers in his stable. >> when allegations were first made against "the news of the world's" former royal editor clive goodman, he says he personally should have taken charge. >> i should have gone and thrown all the damn lawyers out of the place. and seen mr. goodman one on one. >> reporter: he admitted it was the public outrage at the hacking of murdered schoolgirl millie dowler's phone, that drove him to close "the news of the world." >> to say it succinctly, i panicked. but i'm glad i did. and i'm sorry i didn't close it years before, and put a sunday "sun" in. this whole business of the "news of the world" is a serious blot on my reputation. >> reporter: his evidence had taken seven hours to give. it had been part contrition but 100% a denial of any personal knowledge or involvement in wrongdoing.
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>> brown: ray suarez takes it from there. >> suarez: john burns has been covering the inquiry for the "new york times" and joins me now. john, we heard rupert murdoch say he had failed, that he was sorry, but then number himself and senior newscorp management among the victims of what was going on at his paper. how is this latest testimony going down in britain? >> well, there's pretty wide reactions. i think there was fascination to begin with with... for millions of television viewers this was covered live on his nemesis, the bbc, his principal adversary in the broadcasting business. i think the fascination we're seeing center stage under the lights a man who's had enormous influence in this country for the last 30 or 40 years who has never before been put on the stage like that. people will, of course... many people will have doubts as to the authenticity of what he had
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to say. they'll say, well, he would say that, wouldn't he? but he put forward a, if you will, a scenario that has a certain kind of potential credibility about it. he was, although he denied it, started out scraping in the newsroom. he's an ink-stained wretch who went from a small provincial newspaper to being the largest media conglomerate in the world, $60 billion of assets and he transferred himself to the united states, he got involved with fox television, 20th century fox and basically he's saying he took his eye off this ball. he made, shall we say, at least a case that had some sort of credibility to it. well, we know, of course, there's the criminal investigation that goes on whether there's a smoking gun
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there but if there is, there was no side of it at the hearing today. >> people have seen rupert murdoch testify already grilled by members of parliament but that was judiciary inquiry. was he under snoet could thing he is said during this latest questioning be used in other criminal cases? >> there's an important distinction here. that parliamentary committee that he faced last july with his son james the head of the british media interests at the time was relatively brief. it was... the main headline that came out of it was when a protester got in there and threw a foam cream pie at him which generated, at least briefly, certain amount of sympathy. he's an 81-year-old man. but the investigation at that time was not particularly forensic. british legislators don't have the kind of staff or budget that people on capitol hill have. that was separate inquiry.
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this was a broader inquiry into, as they say, the culture, ethics and practices of the british press. it specifically precluded from trying to get to the heart of the criminal investigation for the very simple reason that that is, in effect, subjudice. criminal charges ar pending against 50 people give or take with links to the murdoch tabloids who have been questioned in this affair. so there wasn't any attempt by the council or by the lord justice to go to that today. but the question was difference nick another sense, going to the power rupert murdoch has going to what happens what he should have known given the dominant position he holds in this company. those are the sorts of questions and it was fascinating. >> brown: were there any
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important disclosures coming out of this testimony and whether there were or not does it look like rupert murdoch is done? perhaps out of personal jeopardy at least for this round? >> well, i wouldn't be surprised. he's been tier ten days preparing for this. it would be tremendously stressful for anybody. he's a fairly thick-skinned man by all accounts but still the burden he has borne-- i don't want to sound too sympathetic here because what his newspapers or the "news of the world" in particularly did was, of course, as he put himself a great blot on his reputation but i think he must have felt a great sense of relief that the seven hours were done and he might, i would have thought, very well head for the airport and get on his plane and fly back to new york with his wife tonight. did he get away with it? did he get away with anything? we can't know what's going to come with the criminal investigation but i think what he did was he put rupert murdoch
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at least the rupert murdoch that wants the public to know on the stage and he did it fairly effectively. he was tough, practical, unsentimental. he's deeply anti-establishment and has become the establishment and he was at times engagingly charming, frank, admitting what had to be admitted. he should have closed down the "news of the world" years before he had. in fact, at one point he implyed he should never have bought it. i had the strong impression that rupert murdoch sees a sort of "king lear" style that there is no recovery ultimately from this for him. there's a question as to whether his family can maintain control now of the news corporation and i think he see this is great'm fire he built under serious threat. >> suarez: john burns of the "new york times" talking to us
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from london. good to talk to you, john. >> thank you, ray. >> woodruff: and to another scandal, this one reaching the top political leaders in china. margaret warner has our story. ( singing ) >> warner: it's been six weeks since bo xilai-- the one-time rising star of the chinese communist party-- was last seen in public. since then-- amid corruption allegations and a mysterious murder-- the man who aspired to the standing committee of the politburo has been stripped of all of his powers and positions for "serious discipline violations." and the story has continued to unfold. today's "new york times" reported that bo used wiretaps to spy on other top chinese leaders, including the president. unnamed chinese officials said bo set up a widespread bugging system in the southwestern city of chongqing, where he was communist party chief.
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last august, the paper said, the bugging was detected, electronically, when a beijing disciplinary official visited chongqing and telephoned president hu jintao. also implicated in the wiretapping, bo's then-ally wang lijun, who was the city's police chief. in february, wang fled to the u.s. consulate in nearby chengdu after a falling out with bo. and this month, bo's wife, gu kailai. was arrested as the main suspect in the murder of british businessman neil heywood. he was found dead in this chongqing hotel last november. the furor has also extended to bo's free-spending son, a student at harvard. this week he released a statement to harvard's student newspaper denying that he was a party boy who owns a ferrari. but, he wrote, "i understand that at the present, the public interest in my life has not diminished." the same holds true for his father and seemingly, everyone
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connected to him, as the almost daily disclosures continue. for more on this rapidly unfolding story, we turn to richard mcgregor, a long time correspondent in beijing for the financial times and author of "the party," a book detailing the communist party's control of the country. and xiao qiang, editor of the "china digital times," an online publication. welcome to you both. what do you make of this latest bombshell, that bo chill lie's bugging system wasn't just bugging crime figures but top chinese officials. >> well, it's the latest fascinating insight into the hitherto closed world of chinese politics and on this occasion it's frankly nixonian. i suspect a lot of this goes on. one of the most remarkable aspects of a remarkable case is that we're learning about in the
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almost realtime. it often takes years for this to come out. i'm sure they bug each other, they all keep files of dirt on each other and it's just at different tipping points when it becomes valuable and are used. but it certainly shows that's how that play the game internally and it's very tough. >> warner: and xiao qiang, does this also suggest that the reason he's been not only stripped of power but humiliated is not just the murder and original stories we heard? >> i think everyone who lives china, grows china, is an adult in chinese society or someone familiar with chinese politics will understand. it's not because the... mr. bo's wrongdoings such as his family members involved in a murder case or himself and his close partners, police chief, wang lee june involved in wiretapping causing his downfall.
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it's because he's the loser of a chinese political struggle now and then the dirt coming out against him. everyone familiar with the chinese regime, one party, closed box politics will believe mr. bo and these charges and new facts against him are probably not an exception. such as this couple, the bo family, had been secretly transferred $6 billion u.s. dollars of funds to u.s., the british and other oversea bank accounts according to, again, another chinese official. >> warner: all of this leaking. so richard mcgregor, there have been reports on the internet-- and then i want to get back to mr. xiao about the internet, too because that's his expertise
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that bo xilai was trying to undermine the current chinese leadership and the presumed successor to president huh, xi jinping. is there evidence of that? >> there's no direct evidence of that. his major crime, if you like, politically, was to campaign so publicly for a place in the inner circle of the chinese leadership. he was a very charismatic western-style politician. that doesn't sit well with other leaders because you're meant to do your business behind closed doors. having said that, it's true they all have dirt on each other but this is pretty exceptional. not every top chinese leader is involved or their families are involved in murder and that makes it exceptional. there's a loser in a power struggle there's more to that, i think. >> warner: xiao qiang, you're smiling. is >> i guess we don't know if other leaders have been involved or not, right? not until they became lucid.
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>> well, that's true, but this is a pretty remarkable case. i don't think we should assume they're all stuffing cyanide down foreign businessmen in hotel rooms. >> warner: (laughs) >> this is because of murder involving a foreigner, the british. but here's the information in politics that with the chinese characteristics, if you want to call it. because in a democratic open society the political enemys will go after each other in open media space but in a closed chinese high politics the party media is not usually being used in that way, that different political agenda or political opponents go after each other but in the internet age it became the information that became rumors that leaked to foreign media, to hong kong and taiwan newspapers, to internet, even to the microblogging spaces and every fight of this political struggle is trying to maneuver the informational
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politics and advancing their own agenda. >> warner: do you agree, richard mcgregor, that they're trying to shut down... if you try to google-- of course you can't google in china-- but if you try to search for bo xilai or gu kailai it's blocked but chinese officials are involved in leaking this to the internet? >> there's mump more leaking than usual. you can't control it like you used to be able to and because of that clearly some senior factions are using this for their own ends just like they're doing in the west. i mean, i think they are over6-overall trying to close it down. that's just about impossible to do these days. >> warner: so xiao qiang, where is this going? >> well, first of all this is the biggest political scandal since tiananmen massacre, in the last almost 30 years. but, again, it's not such an
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exception if you consider the history of chinese communist party since people's republic of china being funded. when they become the highest power transition, almost every single time the number two or the original candidate or some huge strug logical happen and someone will go down. whether it's any of them, but ten years ago the current president, hu jintao's transition was exceptionally smooth, but now we see that was only an exception. the fundamentally inherently instability of such a regime in terms of higher power transition is being illustrated dramatically in the internet age by mr. bo xilai's case. many people will see that. >> pelley: we're just about out of time but richard mcgregor, do you think there is a... is this
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exposing a larger split between real factions or is this just one rogue party guy who got out of step? >> i think that's the key point. we all... china has been moving to institutionalizing how to hand over power which communist societies are very... systems are very, very bad at. they looked like they did it ten years ago, they look like they're able to do it this time. >> warner: this fall. >> this fall. but whether they can is an open question. also a question whether something like this will make the party close up and become less transparent than ever or whether reformers, as we're reporting tomorrow, want to sort of constitutionalize the system, make it more open, put up more candidates for the jobs and try to make it more democratic. not the u.s. sense, of course, but generally. >> warner: well, it will be fascinating to watch. richard mcgregor and xiao qiang, thank you both. >> thank you. >> brown: now, part two in our series on using technology to make the world a better place. that's the goal of singularity
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university, a futuristic think tank in california. "newshour" economics correspondent paul solman recently attended a conference there and reported on some of the mind-bending research being explored. tonight, paul looks at the downside of the high-tech revolution. it's part of his ongoing reporting: "making sense of financial news." >> reporter: in a recent conference filled with the wonders of new technology, one presenter's vision of the future was downright frightening. >> there are two million computer viruses that are generated every month. >> reporter: marc goodman is a former cop who ran the los angeles police departments internet crimes unit. >> never before in the history of humankind has it been possible for one person to rob 100 million people. >> reporter: nor has it been possible, says goodman, for anyone to hack into personal medical devices like pacemakers or insulin pumps connected to the internet. >> we are putting all these
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>> the thing that scares me the most after cybercrime is biocrime. we are putting all these little computers in our bodies. and what this means is our bodies are going to become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattack. >> reporter: a high-level consultant to the u.s. government and interpol, goodman advises on technology-based security threats worldwide. goodman is the faculty skeptic at singularity university, the futuristic california think tank, who rains on his colleagues utopian parade of to goodman, high octane high tech is a double edged sword. >> i think all of this technology will develop in really cool and interesting ways, and there'll be a lot of great things that happen. but i can tell you at the same time there will be some bad stuff as well. there are bad actors from both the crime and the terrorism perspective that are using these technologies for ill. >> reporter: now, there's already plenty of bad stuff says goodman like those two million computer viruses a month. but today's hackers are much more dangerous. >> the bad guys live inside your machine, they watch everything you do. anytime you type in your bank
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account or credit card information onto the machine they're capturing it, they're capturing your password. >> reporter: moreover, computers are becoming increasingly embedded in the hardware around us. the typical new car, says goodman, has 250 computer chips. and in this google prototype, now legally riding the roads of nevada, even the driving is fully computerized. >> so you could put in bad g.p.s. directions and have a car drive off a bridge. every day we're plugging more and more of our lives into the internet including bridges, tunnels, financial systems, hospitals, police emergency dispatch 911 systems, military systems, robotics systems, and there's a history of all of these being hacked. >> reporter: the stuxnet computer worm that disabled iran's nuclear program made headlines. but smaller targets are increasingly under siege. >> diabetic pumps are being hacked. diabetic pumps, cochlear implants, brain computer interface, entirely hackable.
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there are 60,000 pacemakers in the u.s. that connect to the internet. it's great if you're suffering from an arrhythmia and your doctor can remotely shock you, but what happens if the kid next door does that? he thinks its fun and does if for the lols. >> reporter: l.o.l.s? you mean l-o-l, laughing out loud? >> yeah. it sounds crazy but we've had people hack into for example the epilepsy foundation and changing the computer code on the screen so that it would blink really rapidly so that they would generate seizures on the part of epileptics, that type of stuff. >> reporter: somebody actually did that? >> somebody actually did that. for what they call the lols, for the fun of it, for the laughs to see if they could do it. >> reporter: upside; downside. consider 3-d printing, a new way of manufacturing, layer by layer, everything from art to artificial organs. this is a 3-d printed model for a prosthetic leg.
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>> this is the lower receiver of an a.r.-15 semiautomatic rifle. all the other parts you can just buy. this is available for free download on something called thingiverse. so criminals are going to start printing guns. >> reporter: but again, the sword of technology cuts both ways. mark goodman's colleagues at the conference, like andrew hessel, extolled biology's coming ability to concoct cures for everything from the common cold to cancer, downloadable as easily as the latest iphone version of angry birds. >> today, we say there's an app for that. now imagine these were viruses each made for an individual cancer and they were available for free or 99 cents. that's where we're going. >> reporter: the first step in that process may well be synthia -- the first synthetic life form, created two years ago by craig venter.
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>> this is a picture of the very first synthetic cell, based entirely on synthetic d.n.a. just around the corner, for human genome code cracker venter, the future is now. >> biology has always been controlled in science by who had the d.n.a., who had the cells, who had the species. now it's all digital. most labs instead of getting the d.n.a. from another lab download it digitally and synthetically make the gene. >> reporter: and prices have plunged. what is that moving there? >> these are some harmless bacteria that somebody's growing for a project. >> reporter: equipment is cheaper, too. this co2 incubator for maintaining tissue cultures costs $15,000 brand new. oh, look, little petrie dishes! but bought used on ebay? >> it was definitely well under $1,000. >> reporter: put simply, basic genetic engineering is becoming
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do-it-yourself. >> so the experiments that were nobel prize winning in the 1970s are now done in high schools. >> reporter: ph.d biologists ellen jorgensen and oliver medvedik helped found genspace, a d.i.y. lab in downtown brooklyn which draws amateur genetic engineers from all walks of life. like lawyer dan orr, who says he found his previous line of work unfulfilling. >> i was working mainly helping large banks fix their foreclosure programs. >> reporter: so unfulfilling doesn't quite do justice to your discomfort. >> i felt it would be better to work in something that was better both for myself and for society. >> reporter: so orr is now genetically altering bacteria to detect mold: they'll glow when they sense it. it makes his teacher, ellen jorgenson, proud. >> you just can't really predict what-- where the imagination of somebody creative will lead them, in terms of solving a
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problem that's societal or scientific or environmental. >> reporter: or maybe creating problems, says marc goodman, if the bio hacker is so inclined. >> as it becomes democratized, i can go ahead and capture your d.n.a. and come up with a particular attack that's targeted against you specifically. >> reporter: and all you'd have to do is shake my hand to get some d.n.a. >> shake your hand, get the coke can that you throw away, get the pen that you signed something with. >> reporter: and then cook up the paul solman virus: one and done. indeed, craig venter told the conference he himself is worried about off-the-shelf biotech. >> while i think it's very cool on the one hand that we have all this biohacking going on, i think it could also be the most dangerous trend. you don't want your kid to be the first one on the block to make ebola virus. >> reporter: so how does craig venter react to the charge that in making life forms from scratch, it is he who's created
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a monster? >> what we've stressed from the beginning is having biological control on these systems is an essential part of things. we don't want new organisms to be added to the environments repertoire, we want it to be added to our industrial repertoire. >> reporter: but aren't you afraid that it could get out of the lab? >> i'm not afraid, no. if things are done properly that won't happen. >> reporter: but a lot of things are done improperly. >> well, they're not actually. there's not been one single accident from molecular biology in almost four decades. >> reporter: but venter is not naive. >> every time there's a new technology, whether its new there is always abusers. there's no question about it, and every new technology has been a battle between making sure there's adequate countermeasures for those that want to do harm to others. >> reporter: genspaces ellen jorgenson agrees. >> i think what you have to place your faith in to a certain degree is the people whose business it is to ensure that we're safe. so the bio security experts, the
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people who work for homeland security, the people that work for the fbi, i've worked with a lot of these people and i have a great deal of respect for them and i think that that's probably our best defense against this sort of stuff, because any technology is going to have dual use. you can think of dual use for practically any technology that's ever been invented. >> reporter: "dual use," meaning bad and good? >> yes. >> reporter: so if it's a cat and mouse game, the cat is the law enforcement and the mice are the bad guys, who's going to win? >> who will win eventually is unclear. i can tell you the mice are really far ahead right now. they're significantly ahead. criminal perpetrators are significantly outmaneuvering and outthinking law enforcement. >> i think that's nonsense. you're telling me that there's a bad guy out there that has more resources than craig venter? i highly doubt that. >> reporter: on the other hand, if some group is dead set on
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doing harm, they may not need more resources than craig venter as technology continues to progress at a breakneck exponential pace. >> woodruff: ellen jorgensen aside, why are most women not pursuing careers in the so- called "stem" fields of science, technology, engineering and math at the same rate as men? i recently put that question to maria klawe, president of harvey mudd college in california. she was in washington to attend a conference about changing that trend. >> dr. maria chrau, thank you for talking with us. >> it's a pleasure to be with you, judy. >> woodruff: so when it comes to girls and women going into the sciences, what's happening? we look at women and girls and there's so many more men than young women looking into that.
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why is that? >> we have lots of women going into chemistry and biology, ma m because they're going to go to med school but we get very few young women going into computer sciences in physics and areas and engineering. we know why? they think it's not interesting they think they wouldn't be good at it and they have the image of people in those fields that they don't think is attractive and what we encourage our young people do in this country is follow your passion. well, if you don't think it's interesting and you don't think you'd do well at it, would grow there? probably not. >> woodruff: why is it boys thing it's interesting and young women don't? >>. >> i think the image is that this is a boy thing. so we've done lots of research on children in elementary school middle school and high school and if you ask girls and boys about computeers they'll all say
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it's boy thing. not using computers, everybody uses computers but when they think about actually becoming somebody who would create things with computers who would actually study computer science both boys and girls think that's something boys do. >> why does it matter that we have more girls interested in the science? >> that's such a great question. for me there are three reasons. the first one is these are amazing careers. particularly right now in computer science, job opportunities are incredible. it's not just about going to work for a place like google or microsoft or facebook. it's about doing computer science in medicine, or computer science and arts. or doing computer science and languages or educational software. so the first thing is careers are out there that play very well. they're very flexible, great opportunities to provide a career with family. so i hate that young women don't get that opportunity. the second one is what gets created in technology depends on
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who's doing the creation. i'll talk about computer games for a moment. so for a very long time, virtually all the computer games were built by young men and somewhat older men and played by young men and somewhat older men so we had shoot 'em ups, lots of violence, sports. now all of a sudden what has happened is the game publishers and game developers and the nintendo and sony and so on have realized that the market for video games has plateaued so now they're going after young women and older women and suddenly we're seeing games are fun. so the first example is isims which came out of electronic arts and became the most popular computer game ever played. a lot of people associated with the simms were female. >> woodruff: but it's a bigger issue than them playing game. that's important but it's also the skill. >> it's the skill.
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it's what kind of user interfaces do we have, what kind of medical devices get created. if you completely shut out the entire feminine perspective on the world you'll have a different set of products. >> woodruff: you've been working on this for years. you said they don't think it's interesting. how do you get them interested and make them confident they can do it? >> let me answer in two ways. if i could wave my magic wand and change the world right this second i would change the way the media portrays careers in science and engineering. we tend to think of those people as dorks and dweebs and geeks and nerds. and back in the '70s we started to show doctors and lawyers where there are women and men who had lives and fell in love and out of love and had all kinds of problems and suddenly we saw numbers of women going into medicine and law
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skyrocketing and it's 50-50 now. that would be the easy solution. seems to be a difficult nut to crack. >> warner: changing the image. >> changing the image. so what i recommend right now is the problem is if you do a program at the middle school level and get girls interested they've got another four years of high school for peer pressure to get them disinterested again and it mostly happened so my recommendation to do it when they enter college. you get them into an intro computer science course that is fascinating and fun and creative and you have them have so much fun that they just can't believe that this is computer science. and that's what we've done at harvey mudd college because we have all kinds of students who arrive saying "i hate computers" but they have to take a computer science course in the first semester and halfway through the semester i'll be asking them "what do you any what's your favorite course?" and probably 90% say "c.s. 5. i hate computers and compute bug
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that's the greatest course ever." >> woodruff: so what about to parents who are watching? >> number one, try it. you won't know until you've tried it. also go into it and for f there are male students in the class who know more than you do, ignore it. because they tend to show it off more. look for an instructor who is encouraging because that makes a huge difference. and i have had so many female students in my life who i talked into taking their first computer science course and they're so grateful. they're going like, oh, my god, i have these great career opportunities, i can do anything i can travel around the world but they had to take the first course. >> woodruff: finally, a question about the national agenda, you participated in a conference at the white house where the president talked about the importance of science and math in school, the importance of students studying that. how important is this whole question of not just women but
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elevating science, math and engineering this country in terms of the future of the united states? >> when you think about where the economic opportunities are it actually... completely demands that we have to have a work force that is skilled in science, engineering and mathematics. we don't have a future unless we achieve that and unfortunately we graduate many fewer scientists and engineers and mathematicians than our competitors do. so i truly believe that if we are to have the kind of future we've had in the past we have to address getting more young people to major in these areas. we have to improve math and science teaching in our schools. >> warner: maria klawe president of harvey mudd college. thank you for talking with us. >> it's been a great pleasure. thank you for having me. it's science thursday online, where you can find our series on the gender gap in the hard
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sciences. we've posted more of our conversation with maria klawe. plus, join our live chat tomorrow on women in science at noon eastern time, the details are on our science page. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: an international court convicted former liberian leader charles taylor of fomenting atrocities in neighboring sierra leone. and the u.s. secret service widened its investigation of a prostitution scandal, after allegations of agent misconduct on previous presidential trips. the house passed a bill that encourages government and companies to share information in a bid to prevent cyber attacks. the president has threatened to veto over privacy concerns. online, we look ahead to election day, 28 weeks away. kwame holman explains. kwame? >> holman: judy sets the scene for a possible season of negative campaigning. her blog post is on our politics page. also, you can watch paul's
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earlier story about the futuristic inventions at singularity university. all that and more is on our web site: newshour.pbs.org. jeff? >> brown: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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